Revenge will be sweet or? Read an #excerpt of Fish Farm #thriller #suspense

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Book title: Fish Farm

Author: Walt Sautter

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Published: December 2017

~ Blurb ~

Meet Jack, a God fearing family man with malice towards none but little does he know of that which awaits him. Within days of our meeting, Jack’s life will be shattered and he will be forced into new, perilous surroundings. He is sure he knows the cause of his downfall and vengeful thoughts haunt him incessantly.

He is soon drawn into a struggle with local thugs which forces him into a dangerous confrontation. Jack becomes ever hardened by the conflict and together with the help new found friends, he takes grisly retaliation.

Emboldened by his newly acquired mettle he decides to avenge those who he believes led to his initial undoing. Revenge will be sweet or so he thinks?

Grab a copy!

Amazon ~ Smashwords

~ Excerpt ~

After riding for several more minutes, a sign appears in the distance. The sign reads – ‘Sorry – No fish are bitin’ today – Closed for Repairs’. They turn and drive down the long, dirt lane adjacent to the sign. A dust cloud pours from the rear of the car as they drive. It is Sticksville for sure. Larry appears as a burly, unshaven man with a long scraggy, white pony tail and several missing teeth. He’s got faded tats on both arms – “Nam 68” and “Khe Sanh” and a huge keloid scar on his left cheek. He is sitting in a rocker on his dilapidated porch wearing faded blue jeans and an unbuttoned raggedy, red and black flannel shirt with cut off sleeves. His large, shaggy, red mongrel dog Rusty is lying next to him. He is slowly rocking back and forth as the car approaches. He continues to rock even as Jack and Petey get out of the car. “You got it here alright I see.” “Hope it’s gonna work okay after that ride down your road there” replied Petey. “Oh, it’s gonna work just fine I’m sure” Larry answers confidently with a broad grin. Petey goes to the trunk and starts to untie the box. “No, leave ’em on” Jack calls. “Well, how are we gonna get it out of the trunk and into the house if we don’t untie it?” “You didn’t tell ’em Jack?” “No, I didn’t.” “Guess ya wanta make is a surprise, huh?” Larry says with a laugh. Jack is silence for a moment and then turns to Petey who is standing perplexed and still holding the cord which is securing the box. “Listen, Petey, there’s no TV in there. Come over here and sit down for a minute.”

~ About the author ~

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Walter Sautter has been writing crime thrillers and comedies for the past three decades. His diverse work is inspired by true life events and socials issues.

Walt lives in a small New Jersey town with his wife of over 40 years. He enjoys golfing, writing and is passionate about educational reform.

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 Website ~ Email

 

A fight for justice in the #mystery A River of Silence from @SusanCGoldner

 

Mystery
Date Published: January 24, 2018
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
 
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When Detective Winston Radhauser is awakened by a call from dispatch at 12:45a.m., it can mean only one thing—something terrible awaits him. He races to the Pine Street address. In the kitchen, Caleb Bryce, nearly deaf from a childhood accident, is frantically giving CPR to 19-month-old Skyler Sterling. Less than an hour later, Skyler is dead.
The ME calls it a murder and the entire town of Ashland, Oregon is outraged. Someone must be held accountable. The police captain is under a lot of pressure and anxious to make an arrest. Despite Radhauser’s doubts about Bryce’s guilt, he is arrested and charged with first degree murder. Neither Radhauser nor Bryce’s young public defender believe he is guilty. Winston Radhauser will fight for justice, even if it means losing his job.
 

 

~ Excerpt ~

Prologue
1988
In only eleven minutes, Detective Winston Radhauser’s world would flip on its axis and a permanent line would be drawn—forever dividing his life into before and after. He drove toward the Pima County Sheriff’s office in Catalina, a small town in the Sonoran Desert just twelve miles north of Tucson. Through the CD speakers, Alabama sang You’ve Got the Touch. He hummed along.
He was working a domestic violence case with Officer Alison Finney, his partner for nearly seven years. They’d made the arrest—their collar was sleeping off a binge in the back of the squad car. It was just after 10 p.m. As always, Finney wore spider earrings—tonight’s selection was a pair of black widows he hadn’t seen before.
“You know, Finn, you’d have better luck with men if you wore sunflowers in your earlobes.”
She laughed. “Any guy intimidated by a couple 14-carat web spinners isn’t man enough for me.”
He never missed an opportunity to tease her. “Good thing you like being single.”
The radio released some static.
Radhauser turned off the CD.
Dispatch announced an automobile accident on Interstate 10 near the Orange Grove Road exit. Radhauser and Finney were too far east to respond.
Her mobile phone rang. She answered, listened for a few seconds. “Copy that. I’ll get him there.” Finney hung up, then placed the phone back into the charger mounted beneath the dashboard.
“Copy what?” he said. “Get who where?”
She eyed him. “Pull over. I need to drive now.”
His grip on the steering wheel tightened. “What the hell for?”
Finney turned on the flashing lights. “Trust me and do what I ask.”
The unusual snap in her voice raised a bubble of anxiety in his chest. He pulled over and parked the patrol car on the shoulder of Sunrise Road.
She slipped out of the passenger seat and stood by the door waiting for him.
He jogged around the back of the cruiser.
Finney pushed him into the passenger seat. As if he were a child, she ordered him to fasten his seatbelt, then closed the car door and headed around the vehicle to get behind the wheel.
“Are you planning to tell me what’s going on?” he asked once she’d settled into the driver’s seat.
She opened her mouth, then closed it. Her unblinking eyes never wavered from his. “Your wife and son have been taken by ambulance to Tucson Medical Center.”
The bubble of anxiety inside him burst. “What happened? Are they all right?”
Finney turned on the siren, flipped a U-turn, then raced toward the hospital on the corner of Craycroft and Grant. “I don’t know any details.”
TMC was a designated Trauma 1 Center and most serious accident victims were taken there. That realization both comforted and terrified him. “Didn’t they say the accident happened near the Orange Grove exit?”
“I know what you’re thinking. It must be bad or they’d be taken to the closest hospital and that would be Northwest.” She stared at him with the look of a woman who knew him almost as well as Laura did. “Don’t imagine the worst. They may not have been in a car accident. Didn’t you tell me Lucas had an equestrian meet?”
Laura had driven their son to a competition in south Tucson. Maybe Lucas got thrown. He imagined the horse rearing, his son’s lanky body sliding off the saddle and landing with a thump on the arena floor. Thank God for sawdust. Laura must have ridden in the ambulance with him.
But Orange Grove was the exit Laura would have taken on her drive home. The meet ended at 9:00 p.m. Lucas always stayed to unsaddle the horse, wipe the gelding down, and help Coach Thomas load him into his trailer. About a half hour job. That would put his family near the Orange Grove exit around ten.
The moon slipped behind a cloud and the sudden darkness seemed alive and a little menacing as it pressed against the car windows.
Less than ten minutes later, Finney pulled into the ER entrance and parked in the lot. “I’m coming with you,” she said.
He shot her a you-know-better look, then glanced toward the back seat where their collar was snoring against the door, his mouth open and saliva dribbling down his chin. It was against policy to leave an unguarded suspect in the car.
“I don’t give a damn about policy,” she said.
“What if he wakes up, hitches a ride home and takes out his wife and kids? Put him in the drunk tank. I’ll call you as soon as I know anything.” He ran across the parking lot. The ER doors opened automatically and he didn’t stop running until he reached the desk. “I’m Winston Radhauser. My wife and son were brought in by ambulance.”
The young nurse’s face paled and her gaze moved from his eyes to somewhere over his head.
With the change in her expression, his hope dropped into his shoes. He looked behind her down a short corridor where a set of swinging doors blocked any further view. “Where are they?”
It was one of those moments he would remember for a lifetime, where everything happened in slow motion.
She told him to wait while she found a doctor to talk to him, and nodded toward one of the vinyl chairs that lined the waiting room walls.
He sat. Tried to give himself an attitude adjustment. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as he thought. Laura or Lucas could be in surgery and the nurse, obviously just out of nursing school, didn’t know how to tell him.
He stood.
Paced.
Sat again. The hospital might have a policy where only a physician could relate a patient’s condition to his family.
His heart worked overtime, pumping and pounding.
When he looked up, a young woman in a lab coat with a stethoscope around her neck stood in front of him. She had pale skin and was thin as a sapling, her light brown hair tied back with a yellow rubber band. Her eyes echoed the color of a Tucson sky with storm clouds brewing. “Are you Mr. Radhauser?”
He nodded.
“Please come with me.”
He expected to be taken to his wife and son, but instead she led him into a small room about eight feet square. It had a round table with a clear glass vase of red tulips in the center, and two chairs. Though she didn’t look old enough to have graduated from medical school, she introduced herself as Dr. Silvia Waterford, an ER physician.
They sat.
“Tell me what happened to my wife and son.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “It was an automobile accident on Interstate 10.”
The thread of hope he held started to unravel. “Are Laura and Lucas all right? I want to see them.”
Her throat rippled as she swallowed. “There is no easy way to say this, Mr. Radhauser. I’m so sorry for your loss. But there was nothing we could do for them.”
All at once the scene bleached out. The tulips faded to gray as if a giant flashbulb had gone off in his face. The doctor was rimmed in white light. He stared at her in disbelief for a moment, praying for a mistake, a miracle, anything except what he just heard. “What do you mean there was nothing you could do? This is a Level 1 Trauma Center, isn’t it? One of the best in the state.”
“Yes. But unfortunately, medical science has its limits and we can’t save everyone. Your wife and son were both dead on arrival.”
His body crumpled in on itself, folding over like paper, all the air forced from his chest. This was his fault. Laura asked him to take the night off and go with them. Radhauser would have avoided the freeway and driven the back way home from the fairgrounds. And everything would have ended differently.
He looked up at Dr. Waterford. What was he demanding of her? Even the best trauma center in the world couldn’t bring back the dead.
There was sadness in her eyes. “I’m sure it’s not any comfort, but we think they died on impact.”
He hung his head. “Comfort,” he said. Even the word seemed horrific and out of place here. Your wife and son were both dead on arrival. Nine words that changed his life in the most drastic way he had ever imagined.
“May I call someone for you? We have clergy on staff if you’d like to talk with someone.”
A long moment passed before he raised his head and took in a series of deep breaths, trying to collect himself enough to speak. “No clergy, unless they can bring my family back. Just tell me where my wife and son are.” His voice sounded different, deeper—not the same man who went to work that evening.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “But when deaths occur in the ER, we have to move them down to the morgue.”
Radhauser stood. Beneath his anguish, a festering anger simmered. Laura was a good driver. He was willing to bet she wasn’t at fault. More than anything now, he needed someone aside from himself to blame.
Outside, a siren wailed, then came to an abrupt stop. The sound panicked Radhauser as he headed for the elevator, waited for the door to open, then got inside. He pushed the button to the basement floor. He’d visited this hospital morgue once before to identify a fellow police officer shot in a robbery arrest gone bad. The door opened and he lumbered down the empty hallway.
As he neared the stainless steel door to the morgue, a tall, dark-haired man in a suit exited. At first Radhauser thought he was a hospital administrator. The man cleared his throat, flipped open a leather case and showed his badge. “I’m Sergeant Dunlop with the Tucson Police Department. Are you Mr. Radhauser?”
“Detective Radhauser. Pima County Sheriff’s Department.”
Dunlop had a handshake Radhauser felt in every bone in his right hand. “I’m so sorry for your loss, Detective.”
“Are you investigating the accident involving my wife and son?” Radhauser looked him over. Dunlop wore a pin-striped brown suit with a yellow shirt and a solid brown tie—the conservative uniform of a newly-promoted sergeant. The air around them smelled like antiseptic and the industrial solvent used to wash floors. “Have you determined who was at fault?”
Dunlop hesitated for an instant. “Yes, I’m the investigating officer. From the eyewitness reports, your wife was not to blame. A Dodge pickup was headed south in the northbound lane of Interstate 10 near the Orange Grove exit. No lights. He hit her head-on.”
Radhauser cringed. The image cut deep. “Was he drunk?”
“I need to wait for the blood alcohol test results to come back.”
The anger building inside Radhauser got closer to the surface every second. Silence hung between them like glass. He shattered it. “Don’t give me that bullshit. You were on the scene. What did you see? What did the breathalyzer read?”
Dunlop’s silence told Radhauser everything he needed to know. “Did the bastard die at least?”
“He was miraculously uninjured. But his twin boys weren’t so lucky.” Dunlop’s voice turned flat. “They didn’t make it.” He winced, and a tide of something bitter and hopeless washed over his face. “The idiot let them ride in the pickup bed. Five fucking years old.”
“What’s the idiot’s name?”
“You don’t need to know that right now.”
Biting his lip, Radhauser fought against the surge of rage threatening to flood over him. “Who are you to tell me what I need to know? It’s not your wife and kid in there. Besides, I can easily access the information.”
Dunlop handed him a card. “I know you can. But you have something more important to do right now. We can talk tomorrow.” He draped his arm over Radhauser’s shoulder the way a brother or a friend might do.
The touch opened a hole in Radhauser’s chest.
“Say goodbye to your wife and son,” Dunlop said, then turned and walked away.
In the morgue, after Radhauser introduced himself, a male attendant pulled back the sheet covering their faces. There was no mistake.
“Do you mind if I sit here for a while?” Radhauser asked.
“No problem,” the attendant said. “Stay as long as you want.” He went back to a small alcove where he entered data into a computer. The morgue smelled like the hallway had, disinfectant and cleaning solution, with an added hint of formaldehyde.
Radhauser sat between the stainless steel gurneys that held Laura and Lucas. Of all the possible scenarios Radhauser imagined, none ended like this.
Across the room, two small body bags lay, side by side, on a wider gurney. The twin sons of the man who killed his family.
The clock on the morgue wall kept ticking and when Radhauser finally looked up at it, four hours had passed. He tried, but couldn’t understand how Laura and Lucas could be in the world one minute and gone the next. How could he give them up? It was as if a big piece of him had been cut out. And he didn’t know how to go on living without his heart.
###
For an entire year afterwards, Radhauser operated in a daze. He spent the late evening hours playing For the Good Times on Laura’s old upright piano. It was the first song they ever slow danced to and over their fourteen years together, it became their own.
He played it again and again. The neighbors complained, but he couldn’t stop. It was the only way he could remember the apricot scent of her skin and how it felt to hold her in his arms on the dance floor.
Night after night, he played until he finally collapsed into a fitful sleep, his head resting on the keyboard. The simple acts of waking up, showering, making coffee, and heading to work became a cruel pretense acted out in the cavernous absence of his wife and son.
 

~ About the Author ~

Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She has been writing poems and short stories since she could hold a pencil and was so in love with writing that she was a creative writing major in college.


Prior to an early retirement which enabled her to write full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. It was there she met her husband, Andreas, one of the deans in the University of Arizona’s Medical School. About five years after their marriage, they left Tucson to pursue their dreams in 1991–purchasing a 35-acres horse ranch in the Williams Valley in Oregon. They spent a decade there. Andy road, trained and bred Arabian horses and coached a high school equestrian team, while Susan got serious about her writing career. 
Through the writing process, Susan has learned that she must be obsessed with the reinvention of self, of finding a way back to something lost, and the process of forgiveness and redemption. These are the recurrent themes in her work.

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Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married. Read the 1st Chapt of Cassie Scot @ChristineAmsden #paranormal #mystery

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Title: Frozen: A ParaNormal Mystery (Cassie Scot Book Seven)

Author: Christine Amsden

Genre: Paranormal

~ Blurb ~

Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married.

Cassie Scot is called away from her daughter’s first birthday party when a young couple is found frozen to death in their living room. The couple ran a daycare out of their home, making preschoolers the key witnesses and even the prime suspects.

The investigation takes a dangerous turn when a deputy is attacked by a hell hound, a creature nobody has seen in hundreds of years. Then the mist rolls in, bringing with it the cold. Cassie has to think fast to survive, and her actions cause a rift between her and her husband.

No, life doesn’t end after marriage. All hell can break loose at any time.

Ebook Release: April 25, 2018

Print Release: June 15, 2018 (tentative)

Audiobook Release: TBA

~ Excerpt ~

Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married. I suppose that’s obvious, but it’s hard to tell from the way Happily Ever After stories dominate our culture. At any rate, marriage seemed like such a solid conclusion to the stories I had to tell that I ended my first four memoirs the day I married Evan Blackwood.

If only I’d known then that all hell was about to break loose.

My name is Cassandra Morgan Ursula Margaret Blackwood, and if you think that’s a mouthful, go ahead and call me Cassie. Most of my friends still do, although I no longer feel unworthy of the full appellation.

To be fair to my younger self, eager to share her journey of self-discovery with the world in the wake of some powerful events, things were quiet for almost two years. More happened to my two best friends than to me during that time. Oh sure, I consulted with the sheriff’s department here and there on cases that mystified them. I also worked with my husband and a dozen others to form and support the White Guard, an organization attempting to unify and protect the magical world. We made some big gains when Matthew was able to convince most of the magical world that his nemesis was using blood magic to control people’s minds – including mine and my husband’s.

It was a sobering moment for us.

But mostly during that time, I grew a baby and took care of her. I always wanted children, maybe because I’m the oldest of nine and having kids around seemed natural.

Anastasia Blackwood turned one in mid-December, right around the time my youngest siblings, Michael and Maya, both turned two. Honestly, I would have preferred to have two separate parties – or even three – to give each child his or her due attention, but my mom wasn’t up to it. She wasn’t up to much anymore, including party planning, so it fell to me and Juliana, seventeen now and pretty much already an adult. The last two years had aged her, as the responsibility for raising Michael and Maya fell heavily upon her shoulders.

The day started normally enough. Juliana, with Michael and Maya in tow, arrived at my place several hours before the party to decorate. My two best friends, Madison and Kaitlin, came to help too, the latter with a one-year-old son of her own. Madison, pregnant but not showing just yet, volunteered to keep the toddlers out of trouble. “For practice,” she said, although we all knew she was doing us a favor. I’d return that favor as soon as she realized how badly moms need breaks sometimes.

Yeah, I know, babies and birthday parties and maybe life really does end when you get married. Or at least loses its sex appeal. Although for the record, I still found Evan as sexy as ever. I mean, the man could drive me to orgasm with a single, magical kiss.

Damn, but it was addictive.

Speaking of Evan, he wasn’t invited to the setup party. Officially, because it was a ladies’ only event, but unofficially, because he wanted a Star Wars theme and I didn’t. I humored him by hanging a banner reading “May the Force Be With You” under the banner reading “Happy Birthday” in bright, colorful letters.

Once our large living room was more or less ready for the party, I left Kaitlin and Madison blowing up balloons while Juliana and I disappeared into the kitchen to finish decorating the cakes. Yes, cakes. If they couldn’t each have their own party, they would at least get their own cake.

Anastasia’s cake was done already – a three-dimensional fairy tale castle complete with turrets and flags and a fire-breathing dragon wrapped around one of the towers. The fire breath was an illusion, compliments of Scott Lee, Evan’s cousin and Madison’s soon-to-be husband. Real fire would have melted the icing.

“You put a moat monster in!” Juliana exclaimed when she saw it. The moat, constructed of blue jello, did indeed contain a gummy worm “monster.”

I nodded, then glanced guiltily at the two undecorated sheet cakes I had baked “just in case.” Mom had sworn she would make cakes for the twins, but I couldn’t trust her these days.

“Did Mom bake a cake?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” Juliana bit her lip. “She said she would; I reminded her when I left that she needed to make the cakes, but it was a bad morning.”

“What happened?” I asked, almost afraid of hearing the answer.

“She was drunk.”

“I thought you threw out all the alcohol!”

“We did. We either missed some, or she’s brewing it in her potions lab.”

“Damn.” I stared at the plain sheet cakes, then looked at the castle that had taken me many, many hours to complete. Compared to the works of art my mom had created for us on our birthdays growing up, it probably looked pathetic, but it would be awe-inspiring next to a flat rectangle with icing.

“Do you have more icing prepared?” Juliana asked.

“I bought plenty of extra ingredients, so I can make more. That’ll give us a chance to think up decorating schemes.” I moved toward my oversized stainless-steel refrigerator as I spoke and pulled out three bowls of icing, each topped with a cold, damp towel. Then I started pulling bags and tips out of the decorating drawer.

“Do you think–” I started, then stopped myself. It was a horrible thought, one I couldn’t possibly give voice to.

“Do I think she’s coming at all?” Juliana asked, apparently reading my mind. Some sorcerers can do that, but not Juliana. Her gift is healing. “The thought crossed my mind. But Nicolas and Isaac said they’d drag her here if they had to.”

Nicolas was my next youngest sibling, currently twenty, and Isaac was just after Juliana, currently fourteen. With Nicolas and me out of the house – me married with a child of my own and Nicolas neck-deep in an intense apprenticeship – a lot of responsibility had fallen on both Juliana’s and Isaac’s shoulders. For that matter, Elena, eleven, Adam, eight, and Christina, five, were all growing up faster than they should have to. But as the two oldest at home, it was worst for Juliana and Isaac. My understanding was that Juliana took care of the kids, while Isaac took care of Mom.

Mom had simply never recovered from the blow of losing her husband, my father, almost two years earlier. His death had profoundly impacted all of us; I still thought about him and missed him. Making things particularly hard was the fact that we had unfinished business between us. What would he say if he knew I had married Evan, for instance? But the worst thing for me was knowing that the last words I said to my father were, “I hate you.”

I didn’t mean it. I wanted to tell him that, desperately.

“I swear she was getting better for a while,” Juliana said, tucking a long strand of dark hair behind an ear. She looked more like Dad, while I resembled Mom, but nobody had trouble believing we were sisters.

“You mentioned that.” I didn’t want to talk about Mom anymore, though. The day would be hard enough without churning up all the old hurt and betrayal. At one point, I thought I’d forgiven my mom, but sometime during her decline I’d changed my mind. Somehow, her refusal to pull herself together for the sake of two helpless babies was worse than anything she’d ever done to me – and she’d once magically disowned me.

Dad had gone along with her plans; that was part of the unfinished business. But for now, I had to focus on those he left behind.

“So Maya and Michael,” I said, eager to change the subject. “What are they into?” I’m afraid I didn’t spend much time with my youngest brother and sister, not even when I visited the rest of the family. I usually spent those visits dealing with Mom.

“Well, Maya’s a summoner and Michael’s a fire starter,” Juliana said.

“We did gifts for their first birthday,” I pointed out. “And we’ve known Michael was a fire starter since before he was born.”

Technically, we didn’t know for sure Michael was the fire starter until after he was born – we didn’t even know there were twins – but the fact that Mom had set things on fire while she was pregnant confirmed the existence of a fire starter in her womb. Pregnant moms often channel their unborn baby’s gifts. Anastasia had saved my life before I even knew she was there.

“Believe me, I still know Michael’s a fire starter every day. His gift keeps slipping its binding; it used to be every few months, but lately it’s just about weekly. I’m terrified the house is going to burn down around us.”

“Have you asked Nicolas for help?”

“He did the last binding himself. Clark Eagle even helped, although Nicolas is getting really good after two years of study.”

“We might need to call a full circle,” I said. “I know Evan would help.”

Juliana shook her head. She never said it outright, but I often got the impression she didn’t approve of Evan. Almost two years after the feud between our families had officially ended, was it possible she still harbored some kind of resentment for them? Of course, they had cursed her bald – apparently permanently. Months of research and experiments had failed to undo that nasty bit of magic, compliments of Amanda Lee, who had never shared her secret. Juliana currently wore an excellent wig that matched her old hair so perfectly it was hard to remember it wasn’t real. At least for me. Might be easier for her, all things considered.

I glanced at my watch. We had about an hour and a half to get the two cakes ready. “Okay, gifts it is. But we need to come up with a better concept for summoning than Mom did last year. Most people thought the girl surrounded by toys represented greed.”

“And then they thought the fire was wrath.” Juliana chuckled. “Okay, let’s just do Dora and Diego.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. It’s their favorite show. They watch it every day.”

We set to work, using pictures from the Internet, skills honed from years of cake decorating, and a bit of magic – provided by Juliana. I still didn’t have a drop of magic, although I channeled some of Anastasia’s because she was nursing. I didn’t use it, though. That had been a hard decision, but Mom’s breakdown had made it easier. She’d spent her life having child after child, making sure she was either pregnant or nursing, so she could continue to channel the magic that had been stolen from her as a teen. While she hadn’t been a bad mom until recently, she had always chosen to have children for the wrong reasons.

I would not become my mother. Not on this. So I didn’t use magic, even when I had it available. I did some ritual meditation to keep it from building up and overpowering me, and that was it.

As we worked, I kept sensing Juliana wanted to say something. After the third time she paused, opened her mouth slightly, then shook her head, I asked her what was going on.

“Nothing,” she mumbled.

“Juliana. Something’s going on. You can tell me anything.”

She bit her lip and looked up from her work. For a moment, I wasn’t sure she would tell me, and I felt a pang somewhere in the region of my heart. Had I been such a bad big sister that she couldn’t even talk to me? I knew I wasn’t around as much as I used to be, but I was married and had a baby of my own. And she never asked for more. Never. If she did … well, I’d find a way.

“I’m worried about Maya,” Juliana said suddenly.

I glanced at the Dora cake, which was nearly done. It only needed the birthday message artfully applied across the top.

“Why?” I asked.

“She screams whenever she’s separated from Michael, even for a moment. It’s weird, and it can’t be healthy. It doesn’t even matter who else is with her, not even me.” Juliana’s voice was full of hurt and bewilderment; she clearly saw herself as the twins’ mom. Maybe in some ways she was, but I wondered if the twins had a healthy, secure attachment to anyone.

I didn’t say any of that to Juliana. It wouldn’t help.

“She loves her brother,” I said carefully. “I’m sure it’s just a phase.”

“Maybe.”

But I could tell Juliana wasn’t convinced. Neither was I. Having recently read every book on parenting I could get my hands on, I thought it very likely that the whole family was having some serious emotional fallout from Dad’s death and Mom’s subsequent depression. Maya didn’t have a parent; Juliana might want to fill that role, but maybe she couldn’t.

We finished the cakes just as the first guest arrived – Evan’s mom, Laura Blackwood, who didn’t like me but who doted on her granddaughter. Soon, the house was full of guests, mostly from the Blackwood side of the family.

“Where’s Mom?” I murmured to Juliana after thirty minutes.

Juliana was on her phone, thumbs working overtime. “Elena says Isaac and Nicolas are trying to revive her. She passed out.” Juliana glanced at the twins, then at me, and I could tell she was torn between going to help and staying for her twins.

“Stay,” I said. “Nicolas and Isaac can handle it.”

Juliana nodded doubtfully, then pasted a smile to her face and went to lift Michael into her arms. Maya let out a shriek that threatened to turn violent before Juliana scooped her up too. Huh. That was a bit extreme. How had I never noticed before?

Two strong arms came around me from behind, pinning me against a hard, warm, familiar chest. I melted against it, letting myself find strength and comfort in a loving embrace.

“Nice party,” Evan murmured in my ear. “What’s wrong?”

“Mom’s passed out drunk.”

He cursed under his breath.

“Do you think the Blairs could help her somehow?” I asked. The Blairs were a family of mind mages, and it was a mark of desperation that I mentioned them at all. I didn’t trust mind mages, and I already owed Matthew ten years of service for a favor he’d done.

“I don’t know, but let’s try to think of something else first. Come on, it’s time to cut the cake.”

We went through the motions of the party: cutting cake, singing songs, opening presents, and playing games. Nicolas arrived an hour late, with the rest of my brothers and sisters, but without Mom. Nobody said anything, but there was tension in the air. Everyone noticed.

The party lasted for three hours, well past the kids’ nap times. The adults simply went on without them until finally, everyone had left except for my siblings and two best friends. I sensed that none of them wanted to go home, and I didn’t push them.

Finally, shortly before dinnertime, the doorbell rang. My heart leapt, thinking that Mom had shaken off her stupor and come after all. I dashed to the front door and flung it open, trying to decide if I should shake my mom or strangle her.

Sheriff David Adams stood on the other side of the threshold, hands in his pockets, a familiar look of tension on his face. I’d seen that expression before – he wore it when a situation made him feel he was in over his head.

“We’ve got a big problem down by the lake,” he said without preamble. “I need you.”

~ About the Author ~

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Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that affects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. (You can learn more here.)

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.

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Can Jordan help him overcome the miseries of his past and find a future with her? Caressed by the Edge of Darkness #paranormalromance @AmandaJGreene1

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Amazon Author PageInstagramTitle: Caressed by the Edge of Darkness

Author: Amanda J. Greene

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Published: 10/10/17

~ Blurb ~

Hardened by centuries of torture, former blood slave, Gabriel Erhard, is driven by an insatiable need to destroy his enemies. Violence darkens his battered soul, leaving no place for mercy in his world. Gabriel’s only desire is vengeance—until he finds her.

Seized by vampires, bound as a slave, and placed on the auction block, Jordan Culver is instantly entranced by the dangerous male who claims her. Jordan’s new captor vows to set her free, but his haunted gaze burns with savage desire and his wicked kiss makes her crave his touch and…complete surrender.

While Gabriel battles his enemies, he will break every sacred law to achieve his ultimate goal—uniting the Outcast Society and creating a new vampire Clan. But the distracting human with mesmerizing violet eyes jeopardizes his plans. With very soft whisper she evokes his tormented memories, testing his sanity and challenging his every boundary. Can Jordan help him overcome the miseries of his past and find a future with her?

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~ Excerpt ~

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a special prize for your bidding pleasure this evening,” X-Tina announced.

On que, the side door opened. Gabriel’s heart slammed to a stop.

Jordan dangled between two large guards. Each had a hand wrapped around her upper arm.

“We’ve saved the best for last,” the hostess said as they joined her on the block. She motioned to the man on Jordan’s right. He released his hold and came to stand beside X-Tina, who smiled and wrapped an arm around his waist. “Mr. Klein is our Lead Slave Handler. He is the one who discovered this little diamond. Thank you, Mr. Klein.”

“My pleasure, I assure you,” he replied, a twisted smile distorting his lips.

Feral desires tore through Gabriel’s chest — a dangerous, combustible combination of rage, hate, and possessiveness. He wanted to crash through the glass, tear out the hostess’s throat. Behead the guard. Rip Klein’s dead heart from his chest and shove it down his throat.  Then he’d slaughter the audience with no regard to the shifter’s neutral territory.

Gabriel hadn’t noticed he’d shot to his feet or that he’d charged the window, but someone was holding him back. Snarling, he spun and struck out. His fist a fraction of a centimeter from connecting with Gannon’s face, he pulled his punch back.

“Easy, man,” Gannon growled, his eyes going black. His vampire rising to meet the threat. “We can’t blow our cover.”

Heavy breaths hissed past Gabriel’s fangs as reined in his demon. Fuck. Where was his famed control? He never lost his shit, but when it came to the tiny human… So close now. Focus. Rescue the mortal and end this crazy emotional shit.

Releasing him, Gannon asked, “You good?”

Gabriel nodded and reclaimed his seat. “Solid.”

Gannon picked the tablet off the floor and handed it back to Gabriel before sitting down and turning his wary gaze back to the auction floor.

Closing his eyes, Gabriel counted ten measured breaths. Keep it together. It would all be over soon and his life would return to normal.

His mind clear, his emotions calm, he opened his eyes.

Jordan swayed, but the remaining guard held her upright. Her brow pinched as the guard tilted her head toward the light, displaying the delicate, sensual features of her face. Perfectly arched eyebrows, a thin nose with a button tip, sharp cheekbones, and her chapped lips were so alluring and plump. Directly under the light, her dark hair shimmered with rays of red, gold and hues of deep purple. Its long length curled wantonly around her slender frame, a striking contrast to the white robe she wore, but for how much longer? She’d soon be stripped bare like the other. He could almost hear the deranged vampires lick their lips at the prospect.

“Number Fifteen is an exceptional beauty. Her hair, thick and soft as silk, is naturally colored.” X-Tina twirled a lock between her fingers. “Her skin is smooth and unmarred, with the exception of two tattoos.” The guard grabbed Jordan’s hands and turned them out for the mystery audience to view. “True” and “Honest” were scribe in flowing, black, cursive across the inside of her wrists.

The hostess cupped Jordan’s chin and gave her head a little shake. Jordan’s eyes fluttered open. She tried to pull away, but was too weak.

“As you can see, her are unique and flash with defiance.” X-Tina giggled. “For those of you interested in a spirited look no further. She is perfect.”

Gabriel growled knowing she meant, “For those of you looking for a slave to beat, torture, and rape into submission, she is the one.”

“Number Fifteen is more than just a pretty face. She is also talented singer.”

The tablet in his hands lit up once more and the video X-Tina has promised began to play. Jordan sat on a stool, center stage of the bar where she frequently preformed. The music started and her glorious, haunting voice rang out. The song started slow, the tempo picking up until she was on her feet swaying to the beat. Enchanting. Gabriel’s heart clenched.

When the song ended, the screen returned to Jordan’s profile.

“Impressive,” X-Tina said clapping.

Klein stepped behind Jordan and untied the waist band of the robe. With a light tug the garment fell.

Gabriel’s eyes flashed demonic black. Gannon’s arm shot out across his king’s chest. They both knew Gabriel could easily shake free, but he remained in his seat. Grinding his teeth, his jaw locked, Gabriel bit back an outraged roar.

He gave his Second a tight nod. As much as he wanted to commit murder and ignite chaos, he would stay in his seat. Gannon leaned back.

Gabriel should be grateful Jordan wasn’t naked, but the white lingerie she wore left little to the imagination.  Lace covered her luscious breasts. The baby doll design revealed the creamy flesh of her trim stomach, executed her round hips, and the lace panties…The handler’s goal was to tantalize the audience, tease the twisted blood suckers. The winner would have the privilege of stripping her, the prize of Jordan’s body for his or her eyes only.

Klein moved back to his post beside X-Tina, but his gaze remained on Jordan. Gabriel read the lust in the vampire’s eyes and the Slave Handler just moved up to number one on his hit list.

“Lovely,” the hostess sighed. “Number Fifteen is an owner’s dream and,” her lips turned in to a greedy smile, “she is untouched.” She paused for emphasis, allowing the meaning of her words to sink in. “Yes. She is a virginal beauty. A physical conducted by a medical professional will be provided, if the winner so choses.”

Gannon muttered a litany of curses then finally groaned, “We might as well gift wrap crates of weapons for Boras.”

Gabriel didn’t respond. Focused on Jordan, his mind sharp, analytical, he waited.

X-Tina’s smile brightened. “The bidding will open at $50,000.”

~ About the Author ~

AmandaJGreene

Amanda J. Greene creates paranormal romance for ravenous readers. She lives in Southern California, where she enjoys escaping the rewarding but hectic world of writing by spending time in the sun and sand with her military husband and their two dogs.

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How far would you go to find the woman you love? Teasers for Searching for Gertrude #historicalfiction #historicalromance #romance

I’m super excited to share the teasers for my upcoming novel, Searching for Gertrude, with you today. As the teasers have been officially ‘revealed’, I can FINALLY share them. I’ve also included an excerpt below. I hope it piques your interest.

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~ Blurb ~

While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey. Rudolf, desperate to follow Gertrude, takes a position working at the consulate in Istanbul with the very government which caused her exile. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love. Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn. As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.

How far would you go to find the woman you love?

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~ Excerpt ~

Gertrude continued to cry and hiccup in his arms. With his right hand, he smoothed her blonde curls while shushing her and murmuring nonsensical words into her ear. When her breaths became less erratic, he loosened his arms from around her before grabbing her hand and tugging her towards her parents. Avi and Rosa Liebster stood at the top of the stairs leading into their townhouse and watched them approach.

Rudolf didn’t bother greeting them. “What’s going on?”

Avi Liebster turned sad eyes on him. “Rudolf, my son, we can’t stay. You know this. Deep in your heart, you know this.”

Words escaped him. He couldn’t lie to the man who he had always known would be his father-in-law. There wasn’t a moment of his life in which he didn’t know Gertrude would be his wife. Until now. Now, she was leaving. Without him. No, not without him. “I’ll come with you.” He turned to rush down the stairs intent on packing up his life. A hand on his shoulder stopped him.

“You know that’s not possible.” The hand on his shoulder squeezed before dropping away. “Stay. Get an education. Become the man you are meant to become. You and Gertrude have time. When the time is right, you can join us.”

“Gertrude can stay with my family until …” His words petered out. Avi shook his head. He tried to implore Rosa with his eyes, but she turned away. “We can get married. She’ll be safe with me.” His desperate plea was met with silence.

“Rudolf!” The sound of his father’s voice startled him.

“Go,” Avi whispered.

He turned to Gertrude. “I…” Words failed him. What could he possibly say to make things better? His eyes stung, and he took a deep breath before trying again. “I’ll come for you.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips against hers. “No matter what. I’ll find you, and we’ll be reunited.”

She flung herself at him, and he caught her in his arms. Sobs wracked her body with such force, he could barely hold on. He tightened his arms around her and leaned against the wrought iron handrail of the stairs to steady himself. He took a deep breath and brought her honeysuckle smell into his lungs.

“Rudolf.” His father’s voice came to him from one step below him. He turned to his father and watched as he nodded to the man standing behind him.

“It’s time,” Avi Liebster whispered the words before gently untangling his daughter from Rudolf’s arms. His arms felt empty as Gertrude was pulled from him. Would they ever feel anything but empty from this moment forward?

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~ About the Author ~

I grew-up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances, to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

Searching for Gertrude is my twelfth book.

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Jump into the fray of a territory not governed by logic or reason ~ Murder Over Medium ~ by Gilian Baker #cozymystery @dollycas

 

Murder Over Medium: Jade Blackwell Mystery Series
by Gilian Baker

Murder Over Medium: Jade Blackwell Mystery Series
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Misterio Press (December 31, 2017)
Print Length: 216 pages
ASIN: B077T9D6Q5
GoodReads Link Coming Soon

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Former English professor turned blogger, Jade Blackwell, is enjoying her predictable routine when trouble comes knocking in the form of an old friend and colleague. Unbeknownst to Jade, Gwendolyn Hexby is no longer the successful academic she once knew and trusted—she is now following a new calling as a psychic medium, a contentious career that flies in the face of the logic and deductive reasoning Jade values.

At first, Jade welcomes the visit, but things soon turn bizarre as Gwendolyn brings only disorder danger and disruption. When a murder is prophesied, and a beloved pillar of the Aspen Falls’ community winds up dead, Gwendolyn becomes Sheriff Ross Lawson’s prime suspect.

To get Gwendolyn out of hot water, and more importantly, out of her house, Jade attempts to prove her friend’s innocence. Jade believes she’s finally discovered the truth, but is soon brought back to reality when she learns all is not as it seems in the realm of the metaphysical. Not even murder.

Return to the Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery Series in Murder Over Medium, as Jade jumps into the fray of a territory not governed by logic or reason—in either this world or the next.

Gilian Baker is a former English professor who has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder.

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Webpage – http://gilianbaker.com/blogging-murder-first-chapter/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GilianBakerAuthor/

Amazon – http://amazon.com/author/gilian-baker

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16252646.Gilian_Baker

 

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Drew must face his fear of going home in Torn Away #romanticsuspense from @Vince524

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Title: Torn Away

Author: Vincent Morron

Genre: Suspense/Romance

Published: November 1, 2017

~ Blurb ~

Drew Duncan swore he’d never go back to Ember Falls again. After he was wrongfully charged with his high school girlfriend’s murder, he waited for a trial that never came. When he was released from jail a year later, he left everything behind. But when his sister is murdered, Drew is forced to return to the hometown where he and his sisters were brutalized by their alcoholic father. Once back, not even his training as a Marine and point man for McAlister Security prepares Drew for what he must face–a surviving sister who refuses to forgive him for abandoning her, a nephew who trembles when he enters the room, and an entire town that thinks he got away with murder. To protect his nephew, Drew will face his most terrifying fear. Going home.

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~ Excerpt ~

Diana instructed Kelli to repeat that phrase in her head, each day, until it started to sink in. ‘I am a free woman, in charge of my own future and destiny.’ It sounded good.

Kelli stepped outside, the cool night air refreshing her entire body. She was a free woman, and she intended to stay that way. Kelli failed Cole as a mother, because she allowed fear to dominate her. She had to do better for him. Cole would heal. He had to. He was all that mattered to her.

Yes, life was going to get better. Kelli would make sure of it. She was through being a victim.

She smiled to herself as she reached for the door handle. The promise was still ringing in her mind when his reflection in the car window caught her attention. She had no time to panic before he grabbed her from behind, whispered, “Bitch,” in her ear and used a sharp blade to slit her throat.

Her scream drowned in a bloody gurgle as he dragged her to a nearby car, used a key fob to remotely open the trunk, and threw her inside like a bag of garbage. She barely registered the fact the trunk was lined with plastic as he glared down at her with scorn and stabbed the knife into her chest. She prayed her sister, brother and best friend would deliver the promise of a better life for her son. Kelli Duncan died before he slammed the trunk closed, but she died a free woman.

~ About the Author ~

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Born and raised in Brooklyn NY, Vincent Morrone now resides in Upstate NY with his wife. (Although he can still speak fluent Brooklynese.) His twin daughters remain not only his biggest fans, but usually are the first to read all of his work. Their home is run and operated for the comfort and convenience of their dogs. Vincent has been writing fiction, poetry and song lyrics for as long as he can remember, most of which involve magical misfits, paranormal prodigies and even on occasion superheroes and their sidekicks.

As they say in Brooklyn: Yo, you got something to say? Vincent would love to hear from you at Vincent@vincentmorrone.com

You can check his website or connect with him on Twitter https://twitter.com/Vince524 and Facebook

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